Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bonobo Monkeys

Susan Savage-Rumbaugh gives a Ted talk about Bonobo Monkeys:

Susan Savage-Rumbaugh works with Bonobo monkeys. She calls them the happiest species.

Some interesting things about the Bonobo:

-- They are remarkably human & can even walk bipedally for long distances.

-- They are learning tasks from humans -- starting fires, writing, playing video games, playing music, cutting hide -- by watching (not by being taught/trained).

-- "Sexual behavior is not confined to one aspect of their life that they set aside. It permeates their entire life, it's used for communication and for conflict resolution."

What Susan Savage-Rumbaugh has learned from these monkeys:

"I think that as we look at culture we kind of come to understand how we got to where we (humans) are and I don't really think it's in our biology. I think we've attributed it to our biology but I don't really think it's there."

above image from:,29307,1729362,00.html

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Neutral State Between Pleasure & Pain

I read somewhere "The neutral state between pleasure & pain is pleasure."

I think the opposite, more pessimistic, view -- "The neutral state between pleasure & pain is pain"-- is more prevalent; especially in western culture.

If we view our neutral state as a pain, we must continually strive to achieve happiness. This leads to the striving -- the need for continual improvement -- that is so ingrained & revered in our culture. (This way of thinking leads to sustainability issues & relates to Straw Dogs' myth-of-progress thesis.)

"Living The paradox is that the foundation for greatness is honoring the small things of the present moment instead of pursuing the idea of greatness." - From the Tolle quote, previous post.

If we can achieve a baseline of pleasure, there's nothing else we need to do.